I have my moments when I have a strong desire to share what’s on my heart. The truth is, tonight my heart is pretty heavy.

In the last year suicide has become far too familiar to me, from my close friend Karyn Washington, Founder of For Brown Girls committing suicide at the tender age of 22, to Simone Battle the 25 year old singer from the girl group G.R.L, to the most recent death of Titi Branch 45, Co-founder of Miss Jessie’s- one of the leading hair care brands in the African American hair care market. All of these women appeared to be strong, seemingly successful, and were admirable to many… Including myself. But I can tell you that all the glitz and glam in the world doesn’t mean anything when you feel alone, misunderstood, or when you lose sight of your purpose…

I’m not a psychologist, nor am I an expert on mental illnesses or suicide, but I know what it’s like to feel alone. During the time that I was running my company by the name of My BrownBox, I felt alone. Maybe it was the responsibility of satisfying thousands of customers or the admiration that blinded people from seeing the grittiness of what truly went into running a business that almost drove me insane, but it’s something that can’t be explained…something that is rather embarrassing. Something that is so taboo that it remains masked and bottled up. For many it’s easy to put on a smiling face, but for me it wasn’t. Thank God. For those who have not yet heard my story, and why I ended my business… to sum it up, I was NOT happy. It looked great from the outside, but from the inside it became a job that I wanted out of as quickly as possible.

Any of the three women that I mentioned above could’ve been me, but thankfully instead of listening to those who wanted me to continue My BrownBox, I made the wise decision to disconnect myself from it as quickly as possibly, before it led to self destruction.

After Karyn’s death I spent a great deal attempting to clear up misinformation disseminated by the media where they were saying Karyn was depressed, mentally ill and so forth. The truth is, sometimes people’s hurt goes much deeper than the human eye. Sometimes people have hurt that they’ve learned to hide so well. In all honesty, I don’t know how deep Karyn’s hurt went. I knew that she was facing a lot of issues that were more than she knew how to handle. I know that she was having issues with her family, a guy that she was crushing on, and really having a difficult time coping with her mother’s death. Those things are enough to push someone into a depression, and everyone handles things differently.

However, this post isn’t about Karyn. Nor is it about me having the answers or solution. It is simply my attempt to express myself and release the heaviness that is weighing on my heart.

I have noticed that people are quick to chalk depression up as a person being “weak”, or a person not having strong enough “faith”, but instead of JUDGING those that suffer from depression, or have signs of depression…we need to begin lending a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on, to cry on, offering prayer and other forms of support. If you care about a person, let them know that they are not alone and that brighter days are ahead. Let them know that you are there for them… whatever you do, ACKNOWLEDGE the signs and do NOT act in denial because someone close to you could be hurting more than you know.

If you or anyone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255